Ulster BOCES means different things to different people. For Taylor Mott, it provided the chance to earn an associate’s degree at no cost to himself or his family, along with the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, and professional connections needed to jumpstart a successful career before graduating. This led to Taylor securing a well-paying position while still in school, ultimately helping make it possible for him to be a homeowner at just 20 years old.
It was Ulster BOCES, he said, that gave him the maturity and know-how that he needed to enter adulthood with confidence.
Taylor, who came to Ulster BOCES from the Kingston City School District, attended the Hudson Pathways Academy (HVPA) and Advanced Robotics & Manufacturing program at the Career & Technical Center. The program, which was a blended model of secondary and post-secondary classes that are taken at both Ulster BOCES and SUNY Ulster, provided Taylor with hands-on skills in machinery and computer-aided design (CAD) bioengineering coding. It also exposed him to many local industry partners, such as Selux Corporation and Viking Industries, Inc.
Before graduating in 2020 with his Associate of Science degree in Individual Studies from SUNY Ulster with a certificate in Manufacturing Technology, Taylor had already been recruited for a position as a technician at Teeth Tomorrow Dental Laboratory and was working a flexible schedule around his classes.
Working with industry partners enabled Taylor to develop career-readiness skills in real-world environments. Through workplace learning challenges, Taylor and his HVPA classmates worked in teams to problem-solve and create solutions for issues identified by the industry partners. The HVPA teams would study the issue and then present their recommendations to the company for feedback.
“It wasn’t just numbers on a page,” said Taylor. “I learned how to speak publicly, share my ideas with others, and work as part of a team. It was gratifying to see our work as a final, real product. Sometimes we were even thanked for our ideas and creation.”
It was this kind of independent thinking and innovation that caught the eye of Production Manager Zachary James, Taylor’s supervisor at Teeth Tomorrow. While attending a Council of Industry meeting, James mentioned the open position at Teeth Tomorrow and Taylor’s name came up as a prospective candidate.
“Taylor’s experience with CAD made him well-suited for our department,” James said. “Even though it was a challenge to accommodate his schedule, since he was still in school at the time, he was a very self-assured and appealing candidate.”
Today, Taylor applies the knowledge and skills he gained while attending HVPA and CTE to design what are known as “full arch implants.” Using doctor and patient input, he uses CAD software to make modifications to the design of the original mold. His coworkers then manufacture the product. They all work together until the patient is comfortable and happy.
“That is what is most important,” he said.
Taylor wasn’t always this confident and self-assured. When he first came to HVPA, he was a shy 14-year-old who didn’t speak in class or ask for help when he needed it. He soon found that the learning approach and style of his new classroom at HVPA suited him perfectly. “There were less people, allowing the teachers to give more individual attention. I felt I could ask questions more freely and build better relationships with both students and teachers,” he said. “The curriculum really challenged me in a positive way.”
“Our teachers treated us like adults,” he continued. “They acted like we were mature enough to make our own decisions and find our own path.”
More importantly, he said, “They taught us to set goals and not be afraid to ask others for help.” This type of guidance prompted Taylor to save his money carefully, a strategy that enabled him to purchase a home at such a young age. Now he is thinking of going back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering.
James said having technicians with skills such as the ones Taylor possesses and the availability of programs such as the ones at Ulster BOCES are important to maintaining the vitality of the Hudson Valley’s manufacturing industry.
“As the older generation retires, the manufacturing industry faces the challenge of ‘passing the baton’ to a new generation of technicians,” he said. “Ulster BOCES has proven to be a fertile ground for candidates.”
Before hiring Taylor, James had employed another HVPA graduate, who has since moved on to a new career in precision metal fabrication. Pleased with both of these hiring decisions, James looks forward to expanding his relationship with HVPA.
“I have found that, based on the two BOCES students we have had in our employ, they exhibit an ability for critical thinking and problem solving,” he said. “Our BOCES hires have been effective communicators, industrious, and dedicated. I look forward to seeing more of them in the future.”